Get to Know Us

Teachers and Board Members

Learn about the people that make this community.

Meet Our Teachers

Our highly trained staff come from diverse teaching backgrounds and have unique interests.

Alex Griffen

Alex Griffen

OG Tutor, Science & History

Learn More about Ms. Alex!

Alex hails from New York state but has called Colorado and VSA home for two years now. She was originally certified as a science teacher at Cornell University in NY but has since had extensive Orton Gillingham training and experience, including tutoring at Rocky Mountain Camp for kids with dyslexia. She is currently VSA’s resident Science/History teacher, as well as a 1:1 OG tutor for several students. In her free time, Alex enjoys rock climbing, running, skiing, hiking, camping, and making/enjoying music. She loves any chance to get outside, which makes her extra excited to teach science and get younger generations interested and invested in nature!

Kelsey Butz

Kelsey Butz

OG Tutor, 1-3 Writing

Learn More about Ms. Kelsey!

Hello! I am Miss Kelsey! I am looking forward to my eighth year of teaching! I grew up in New York and went to Potsdam University to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood/ Childhood Elementary and Geology. Following college, I attended the University at Albany and received my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist and Special Education.  I am an Orton-Gillingham advanced therapist and have a lot of experience working with students who are dyslexic. Currently, I live in Evergreen with my dog, Milly. Milly comes to school with me every day and is one of our therapy dogs at school. She is very sweet, loves to listen to students read out loud and enjoys going outside to play with everyone at recess. In my free time, I love to read, hike, travel, ski, and spend time with my family and friends! In the winter, I enjoy snowshoeing, baking, and cuddling up by the fire with a good book. In the summer, I love to go swimming, sailing, ride my bike, and go to concerts at Red Rocks. My favorite color is green, and I LOVE pizza! I am a Bruins fan and I LOVE watching hockey. My favorite place to be is outside! My primary goal as your child’s teacher is to help them learn, grow, and discover in a safe and supportive environment.

Mindy Russell

Mindy Russell

OG Tutor, Reading & Writing

Learn More about Ms. Mindy!

My name is Mindy and I’m Dyslexic! My passion is driven by my personal struggles with dyslexia and the lack of support available for my difference in learning. I went into teaching to make a change in education. I don’t want any child that struggles with the same disability to go through life feeling like they are not smart simply because the public education system wasn’t set up to meet their needs. Sadly, in the four years that I was pursuing my Special Education degree, Dyslexia wasn’t even mentioned in the curriculum! Nor was there available training for a masters degree in Dyslexia Education at the time I was seeking it. Luckily, I was able to find Joyce Bilgrave, an Orton-Gillingham expert, was trained, and am able to make the difference in teaching that I wish I had when I was growing up. I am also a parent of a child with Dyslexia and have a full understanding of what parents struggle with when trying to get the services their child needs. I am a lifetime learner and enjoy learning from my children, my students, and members of my community. Someday, I would love to take my kids to Lake Powell on a houseboat. My dream vacation would be picking sea glass off of the shore on a beach in California.

Garrett Grigsby

Garrett Grigsby

OG Math

Learn More about Mr. Garrett!

My name is Garrett Grigsby and I am proud to say that Vertical Skills Academy is where I teach. I have been teaching for 3 years and have known from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher and help people. Working with the wonderful students here at Vertical Skills Academy has been a privilege and something that I look forward to every day. I grew up in Evergreen and attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver where I received both a B.A. in History and a Colorado Teaching Licensure in Elementary Education. During my free time, I enjoy snowboarding, riding dirt bikes, traveling, and spending time with my family.

Christine Riedlin

Christine Riedlin

OG Tutor, Reading & Writing

Learn More about Ms. Christine!

Christine has lived in many states but keeps coming back to Colorado. She has taught ages ranging from preschool to college. She currently teaches within the Upper and Middle School sections. She earned her Master’s Degree in Literacy Instruction, completed over 80 hours of Orton-Gillingham Training, and has spent many summers working explicitly with Dyslexic students at Rocky Mountain Summer Camp. Working with this incredible population on their specific needs is a thrill for Christine. She has now even started her own tutoring business, Academic Base Camp, to help students with reading, executive functioning, math, and any other skills they may need help with. While not teaching, she enjoys playing with her puppy in the mountains. A favorite quote, “Mistakes are merely opportunities to learn and grow.”

Kari Gray

Kari Gray

School Social Worker

Learn More about Ms. Kari!

Kari has lived all over America, Colorado is the 5th state she has called home and is originally from Massachusetts. Kari has extensive experience working with young people in a variety of settings and was a teacher for 3 years in Chicago. Currently, she is the school social worker at VSA for her concentration year internship through the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her pup, Ninja, reading, hiking, bouldering, sleeping, and eating.

Mary Candeo

Mary Candeo

OG Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Mary!

Mary is delighted to be at Vertical Skills Academy where her goal is to help these young problem solvers reach their potential. In addition to a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy, Mary has been trained in several multi-sensory language programs and is certified as a Barton tutor at the advanced level. She has years of Orton-Gillingham experience including summers at Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexic Kids.

A nontraditional educator in many settings, Mary worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, was the homeschooling parent of a dyslexic, and tutored in the international schools of Lesotho and Albania. Mary is happy to be home again in Evergreen where she enjoys hiking with her dogs, reading about reading, and debating the Oxford comma.

Jen Halsall

Jen Halsall

OG Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Jen!

Jen Halsall is our newest member of the VSA Team! She is currently acting as an assistant tutor and teacher in order to support our teachers and students. Having worked as a tutor this past summer at Rocky Mountain Camp, Jen is excited to get more OG experience and eventually take on some tutor students of her own. In her free time, she enjoys being outside and spending time with her family.

Our Therapy Dogs

Reading to dogs reduces anxiety.

When reading to dogs, our students are able to feel more comfortable. They don’t feel like the dog is judging or pressuring them in any way, therefore it allows them to read more fluently and with ease.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Our board consists of highly qualified women with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Colleen Skates

Colleen Skates

Board Member

Learn More about Colleen!

Colleen has been a mountain-area resident since 1995 and is originally from Massachusetts. In May 2013, Colleen earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Colorado Denver. Her professional experience is in the management of education-related nonprofit organizations. In her spare time, of which there is little, she loves spending time with her family and dog, especially hiking the areas near her home in Evergreen.

Corinne Stephenson

Corinne Stephenson

Board President

Learn More about Corinne!

Corinne Stephenson is the President of VSA’s School Board. She is a mom of three children, the oldest of which is 13 years old, attended VSA for 2 years, and has severe dyslexia and ADHD. She has been a consistent volunteer and teacher/student advocate for 9+ years and has previous school board experience. She was on the school board at a local charter school in the Denver area for 3 years. Corinne also has a long background in fundraising, including direct work with Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has seen first-hand how VSA can have a positive impact on the lives of children with dyslexia and is ecstatic to take on her new role as Board President within the VSA community.

Heather Fleming

Heather Fleming

Board Member

Learn More about Heather!

Heather’s son, Hadyn, attended Vertical Skills Academy for two years. VSA gave her and her husband Patrick their, happy, confident kid back – a kid who is now performing at the top of his class! Heather was raised in Maryland and her first career was on Wall Street in NYC. After her son was diagnosed with Dyslexia, she reinvented herself as a full-time dyslexia/literacy advocate for the Great State of Wyoming, which she now proudly calls home.  Heather’s 5-10 year goal is to have the Orton-Gillingham Method of teaching literacy skills to be the standard in Wyoming. Heather is a Certified Structured Literacy Tutor.

Lindsay Lesch

Lindsay Lesch

Board Member

Learn More about Lindsay!

Ms. Lesch is the owner and primary tutor for Academic Ascents, LLC is located in Frisco, Colorado. Originally from Maine, she graduated from the University of Maine, where she earned a B.S. in Special Education. She then pursued her certification as an Orton-Gillingham tutor through the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. She has been working with students in a school setting, summer camps, and as a private tutor for over ten years. She is now certified as a Dyslexia Practitioner through the International Dyslexia Association and has earned her Masters Certificate in Dyslexia Studies and Language-Based Learning Disabilities from Southern New Hampshire University.

In addition to her tutoring endeavors, Ms. Lesch has seven years of teaching experience as a Special Education teacher. She is dually certified as both a Special Education Generalist (Ages 5-21) and as an Elementary Education Teacher (Grades K-6) Her passion is to help every student experience success, especially in academic areas that are challenging. By working with every student to help them identify their individual learning strengths and needs, she empowers students to maintain a positive perspective despite the challenges they face in school. Additionally, she hosts workshops for parents, teachers, and community members to develop a greater awareness of Dyslexia in the schools and community.

Karyn Beisner

Karyn Beisner

Board Member

Learn More about Karyn!

Students

Therapy Dogs

Staff

Years Established

Get In Touch

Location: 32156 Castle Ct, Suite 201, Evergreen, CO 80439

Telephone: (303) 562-1900

Email: info@verticalskillsacademy.org

School Hours: M-F: 8:30am – 3:00pm